Originally Published: January 5, 2009 10:59 p.m.
PRESCOTT - Prescottonians now can view current air quality information online through a new Arizona Department of Environmental Quality web page.
The easy-to-read information at phoenixvis.net/PPMmain.aspx allows users to see Prescott's current average hourly air quality, and its rating based on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency standards.
The web page allows users to choose one of seven rural Arizona air quality monitoring sites to review more detailed data about the current date or previous dates.
The monitoring sites are located at Prescott, Cottonwood, Sedona, Flagstaff, Springerville, Show Low and Green Valley.
The state agency has had PM10 and ozone monitoring equipment at Prescott College along Grove Avenue since April 2008.
The web pages generally report PM10 pollution, which is particulate matter small enough for people to inhale. It can increase people's susceptibility to respiratory infections and aggravate existing respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis, a link to the page notes.
The agency's rural monitoring sites target areas where smoke and other particulate matter from wildfires and prescribed burns is relatively frequent.
On Tuesday afternoon, Prescott had the highest rating, "good."
The rating system drops successively to "moderate," "unhealthy for sensitive groups," "unhealthy" and "very unhealthy."
When The Daily Courier checked Oct. 28, 2008, the day that smoke from the South Spruce wildfire and possibly the Bean Peaks burn were impacting Prescott, the rating was "unhealthy." On other days when the Bean Peaks prescribed burn was occurring by itself, the rating was "good."
Prescott National Forest officials are planning more prescribed burns this Wednesday through Friday to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires. They plan to burn piles of leftover wood in the Spruce Mountain, Groom Creek, Ponderosa Park and Senator Highway areas just south of Prescott.
"This information (on the web) will be especially helpful to people with asthma and other respiratory problems who now will be able to check our new web page every day to plan their activities and manage their health," Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens said in a press release.
Another group of Department of Environmental Quality pages allows citizens to check out what prescribed burns the Department of Environmental Quality has approved for the coming day throughout Arizona, with a map showing the locations. All agencies need ADEQ approval for prescribed burns.
That information is at azdeq.gov/environ/air/smoke. Click on wildland prescribed fires.
Yet another agency group of pages shows detailed air quality information for Phoenix area at phoenixvis.net.